DR Aqsa Sarwar Rizvi, part of the eDoctor project, operates from her home in Karachi. She is among the 400 doctors volunteering their services to the Sindh government for monitoring some 8,000 Covid-19 patients in home isolation.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
DR Aqsa Sarwar Rizvi, part of the eDoctor project, operates from her home in Karachi. She is among the 400 doctors volunteering their services to the Sindh government for monitoring some 8,000 Covid-19 patients in home isolation.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: More than 400 Pakistani female doctors in over 15 countries and different cities of the country have joined hands with the provincial government in fight against the coronavirus by round-the-clock monitoring and assisting some 8,000 patients in Sindh who are in home isolation through technology-driven and IT-enabled facilities, officials and experts said on Sunday.

They said that the female doctors were brought back to the provincial health system through a technology-driven initiative by one of the oldest public sector medical universities in the country, which has so far succeeded in bringing back to the profession over 800 Pakistani lady doctors in different countries, who have resumed professional practice within the past two years after they had quit the profession due to family or social issues.

DUHS plan for 35,000 ‘inactive’ female doctors

“The Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) some two years ago initiated its eDoctor project for around 35,000 female doctors who had completed their medical education at the expense of the state or privately but are no longer associated with the profession so that they could once again become part of the country’s medical workforce,” said an official.

“The project has successfully brought back hundreds of doctors into the health system. The concept was designed to use the innovative technological tools in reconnecting these out-of-work lady doctors on a single platform, provide them virtual-based teaching of new and updated medial education in the form of a reach programme covering all aspects required to be general physician. Right now eDcotor project has hundreds of doctors who are working from home in Pakistan and different parts of the world offering their services to contribute in the health system.”

The eDoctor project has brought back to the profession some 800 lady doctors who had left medicine for various reasons

The success of the project inspired the challenges-stuck Sindh administration which finds it best possible choice to engage these doctors for monitoring of thousands of Covid-19 patients who are not in touch with any physicians and require regular consultancy despite mild or no symptoms for better recovery, precautions and diet plan during the days of their isolation.

“The Sindh chief minister led the initiative and immediately drew a plan to connect some 8,000 patients in home isolation across the province with the doctors through IT-enabled services, telephones and other technology-driven facilities,” said the official. “The recently-launched initiative is proving success. It would further improve with the passage of time. Sindh has become the first province to launch this initiative. And mark my words; this pandemic is not going anytime soon. So each and every province and region would have to replicate this model for thousands of patients in home isolation.”

Six-month online certification programme

Abdullah Butt, the founder of Educast — the technology partner of the eDoctor project — said there were thousands of Pakistani lady doctors who after completing their medical education were just raising their children and looking after their families and they were not contributing to society through their skills and expertise.

“In a few months, hundreds of such lady doctors have been brought back to their profession through the use of latest EdTech platform, using Flip Model teaching and interactive digital trainings over newer healthcare models and updated medical practices taught by top medical faculty from DUHS,” he said.

Through ‘eDoctor,’ hundreds of out-of-work lady doctors from Pakistani cities and rural areas as well as foreign countries, including Bahrain, Greece, the United States and Indonesia, were motivated to once again join their profession.

“Such lady doctors, who are willing after getting awareness, go through latest educational and virtual digital technology, where they are also required to conduct live video-based patient consultations, clinical rotations with medical consultants in Pakistani hospitals,” said Mr Butt.

“They are equipped with hands on trainings on basic life-support and obstetrics and gynaecology, attachments with clinics, use of electronic medical records and handling of a video-assisted mobile health assessment collaborative platform. They are awarded online certification programme of six months enabling them to get updated knowledge in various fields under certification with 30-CME credit hours as the family medicine certificate that enables them to provide basic healthcare advisory even from their home,” he added.

In its partnership with the Sindh government, he said that the ‘eDoctors’ team from 15 countries and from different cities of Pakistan had been assigned a very crucial job, which remained ignored in other provinces.

“With a network of over 400 females doctors, who have volunteered their services for this cause, patients of coronavirus in home isolation are monitored round the clock,” said Mr Butt. “The data of these patients are shared with these doctors and also the details of the relevant district and health administrations. Our doctors constantly remain in touch with the patients through phones and keep record of their conditions. They also keep the relevant district and health administrations informed and seek their help if required.”

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2020

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